Social Security Disability (SSD) Vs. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

If you are unable to work due to a disability, there are two specific benefit programs run by the Social Security Administration of which you should be aware.

  • Social Security Disability (SSD)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

As your attorney, I want to help you gain access to the benefits you need to live a meaningful life in Virginia. To guide you on that path, let me introduce you to the differences between SSD and SSI.

SSD Benefits Are Available To Qualified Workers

When you work, you pay into a Social Security trust. Once you have reached a set number of working years based on your age, you can qualify for SSD benefits if you are also disabled. For example, a housewife who has never worked would not be eligible for SSD. Similarly, a laborer who only worked "under the table" would not be eligible for SSD.

If you have gaps in your earnings record or worked part time, then you might have a date last insured (DLI) for SSD benefits that occurred in the past and you must prove the onset of disability before your DLI. If SSA tells you that you do not have enough "work quarters" to qualify for SSD, then you should look into other programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

If approved for SSD, your benefit amount would be proportional to your prior work earnings. If approved, benefits begin five months after the date SSA finds you disabled. Back benefits can only start as far back as one year before the date of application. Medicare eligibility begins two years after benefits start. Medicare Part A hospital insurance is free. Medicare Part B medical insurance premiums are automatically deducted from monthly benefits unless you complete and return the decline form. Medicare Part D prescription drug plan is optional.

SSI Benefits Are Available Based On Financial Need

While SSD is based on your past earnings, SSI is based on your need. SSI is for disabled people in "low-income households." Certain income, assets, and resources could reduce or disqualify you from SSI like spouse's income deemed to you, owning more than one house or car, bank accounts, life insurance, extra land, living in someone else's home rent-free, etc. The limit for countable resources is $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple.

If you already qualify for food stamps or Medicaid and are unable to work, you may also be eligible for SSI benefits. If you already qualify for food stamps or Medicaid and are unable to work, you may also be financially eligible for SSI benefits but you still have to prove disability. If you get approved for SSI, you should apply for Medicaid if you have not done so already.

Other Disability Benefits

Adult Child Disability — An unmarried adult who is disabled before age 22 may be eligible for benefits paid on a parent's earnings record if the parent dies or receives retirement or disability benefits. SSA will evaluate the "adult child's" disability under the adult rules. You cannot apply online for Adult Child Disability at this time; instead call SSA at 804-554-3168.

Survivor's Disability — If you are the widow(er) of a person who worked long enough under Social Security, you can receive benefits as early as age 50 if you are disabled and the payments started within seven years of the worker's death. If you are the divorcee of a worker who dies, you can get benefits just as a widow(er) as long your marriage lasted 10 years or more. You cannot apply online for Survivor's Disability at this time; instead call SSA at 804-554-3168.

Get A Free Benefits Consultation

Contact my Richmond-based law firm today for free information on which disability benefits program you may qualify for. Call 804-554-3168 or send me an email to speak with a lawyer today.